Tumbling Run Shelters [mile 2136.1; SOBO 1117.7]
Say what they will about Pennsylvania (and I’ve heard a lot of complaints, mostly about the rocks, the snakes, the traffic noise, and the guns), they do have some of the cleanest and most hiker-friendly shelters on the trail. Some people argue that this is a bad thing (it’s not really hiking, it detracts from the natural environment, et cetera). One thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t take much to get hikers arguing. Rugged individualists with loudly expressed opinions! Particularly online!
This shelter is two shelters—one for snorers and one for non-snorers, lol. There are two picnic tables, clotheslines, a beautiful piped spring, and tent areas with benches and tables made of rounds of an old tree trunk. The tent areas, though… pea gravel! That doesn’t sound warm and toasty, but I bet it’s outstanding in the rain. Luckily I don’t think it’s supposed to be bitter tonight—and after last night’s run-in with the viley racist, whisky-swilling yahoos, I’m not anxious to brave another shelter on a weekend. Especially not one that’s close to a road. The trail has become a very different place from that merry, wacky, peace-love-hippyfest, moving circus that it used to be (and will be again come March and April).
Last night, despite the yahooness, staying in the shelter was a good call. It poured rain overnight. That shelter had two separate rooms; the yahoos stayed in theirs, so I had my own room. The rain on the tin roof woke me up. I thought a tree was dropping a massive bunch of acorns until it finally penetrated that it was raindrops.
I was up and out of there ridiculously early—on the trail at 6:00 on the dot. And… I walked!
For a long time, walking in the dark, I smelled bleach or ammonia—whatever it is that they used to use to wipe down a schoolroom after a kid had puked. You know that smell? I’m sure they use better smells now. Anyway, around 7:30 I got to Caledonia State Park and saw all the dumpsters lined up in a parking lot. It must have been dumpster-hosing day yesterday.
I’ve decided there’s nothing sadder than a park that’s closed for the winter. Desolate grills, picnic tables, fields, pavilions. But the bathroom was open, and I managed to get a little phone juice and fill up my water bottles and throw out my trash. And brush my teeth in a real sink! In fact, I was ten yards back on the trail when I realized I’d had the opportunity to brush my teeth without wasting any of my treated water, and I actually backtracked to do it. Some prices are worth paying.
The day was gorgeous—maybe one of the last really spectacular days of the year. It was about 55 or 60 degrees, blue sky, not much wind. The dayhikers and hunters were out in force. Backpackers, too; two bunches have stopped in to look at this shelter. I don’t know if either of them are staying.
The trail was uphill and rocky. Seriously, it seemed like it was all uphill all day, with a few boulder scrambles that were like a postcard from northerly parts. And my back was sore as hell again. I was stopping every quarter mile or half mile all day long. I think the pack is just shot. After this hike, my pack and my tent are both going into the trash. (Not really; I’ll keep ’em for spare parts. But they’re no longer usable for their intended purposes… much like just about every other piece of gear I’ve used, including six pairs of shoes. New gear! All new gear!) Also, I’m burning my clothes.
And that’s… well, that’s kind of that! No big events today. Just continuing to make my inexorable way to the finish line, I hope.
Tomorrow I’ll be in Waynesboro overnight to get my electronics charged. Then it’s radio silence until the last push is over, one way or another. Dun-dun-dunh!